Tadros and Johnson

Bryn Horner
3 min readOct 28, 2020

Type 2- When should we hold people responsible for criminalized behavior?

In both Tadros and Johnson’s writing, we look at social responsibility for criminal behavior. According to Tadros, poverty is something that we cause by not distributing wealth equally, and in return, the crime rate increases. Therefore, we should not hold poor people responsible because they are justified mostly in their criminal behavior, like stealing food from someone who is well of because they need food to survive. According to Johnson, the defendant in his case, he believes, should not be criminalized because he believes that his crime is not worthy of the severe punishment he received. Alike Tadros, Johnson makes a paralleled link to poverty and criminal behavior: “southern states criminalized recently- emancipated African American citizens by introducing extreme sentences for petty theft associated with poverty” (Johnson 2). The relations between poverty and crime are clear- people in poverty have been dealt a bad hand and need to commit crimes to have some form of success.

Tadros continues this by stating that people are able to say to a person that they are responsible for their actions, but not okay to say that people are entitled to holding these people responsible for their actions. This is not sufficient because of something called a standing. Only someone who is directly involved in the action can hold someone responsible. Furthermore, with the idea of hypocrisy, you cannot accuse someone of having wrong actions when you yourself also have done wrong actions. Also, complicity allows the idea that, “the fact that one person participates in the wrong of someone else deprives the one of standing to hold the other person responsible for the wrong” (Tadros 393). To elaborate, someone a part of the crime must not hold the person responsible, because they as well were involved in the wrongdoing. According to Tadros, we should hold people responsible for wrongdoing if and only if there is no justification, and if you are the victim of said crime.

Tadros specifically uses examples of the poor to explain this. He also parallels this to a relationship. For example, if someone in a relationship harms the other, they will want to distance themselves from that person. Alike this, if the state wrongs poor people as they have done, they have the same right to distance themselves. The state should not have the right to hold the poor responsible for their crime because they do not provide for the poor, so they must obtain necessities through illegal means. Therefore, Tadros believes that poor people should not be held responsible for their criminal behavior. Alike this with the module question, Johnson also believes this. He states that criminals are typically driven by poverty or addiction (Johnson 1). He argues that the defendant should not be held criminally responsible because he was under extenuating circumstances.

Both Tadros and Johnson answer the module question in a unique way. They both highlight the idea of justifications, specifically poverty, behind criminal behavior. In conclusion, we should hold people criminally responsible for behavior when there is no underlying justification, such as poverty. This idea of poverty is such a prominent thing in our society today, and it is interesting to see both texts connect criminalization and poverty.

“SUPREME COURT OF LOUISIANA №2020-KO-00077 STATE OF LOUISIANA VS. FAIR WAYNE BRYANT.” Lasc.org, www.lasc.org/Opinions/2020/20- 0077.KO.bjj.dis.pdf.

Tadros, Victor. Poverty and Criminal Responsibility. 23 Sept. 2009, link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10790–009–9180-x.

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